GMO opponents use a lot of shady evidence to try to demonstrate that genetically modified organisms are bad for human health, but no evidence is more infamous than the study looking into the “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize” in 2012. And fortunately for science, technological progress and Facebook arguments everywhere, the journal that originally published this study has printed a retraction after an investigation of lax research practices.
Mice used in the study had a high incidence of tumors after being fed genetically modified corn for two years, specifically Roundup Ready corn created and patented by Monsanto. The outcome of this study has become one of the major pieces of evidence used to try to prove that GMOs are destructive to human health.
While allegations of fraud were cleared by the peer review process, large errors were discovered not only in the choice of species of rat used, but also the sample size used for research. While 120 mice were used for the experimental group, which was fed the Roundup pesticide, the genetically modified corn, or both, only 20 mice were used for a control group, too small to make accurate comparisons.
Not only was the sample size of rats used for the study too small, but the mouse species chosen for this study is already predisposed to growing tumors even without being exposed to carcinogen material, sometimes with as close to 80 percent of the species growing tumors.
Even the reporting of tumor growth within the study was skewed. The fact that some rats exposed to greater amounts of the pesticide and corn did better than the ones exposed to lower amounts, and the fact that rats exposed to the corn and rats exposed to the pesticide had the same reaction, were never explained or thoroughly analyzed in the paper.
Of course the controversy doesn’t stop there. There have immediately been allegations that anti-GMO boogeyman of choice, Monsanto, has had a hand in having the study retracted. But the biggest addition to the mire of controversy surrounding this study is the threat of a lawsuit lawsuit against the publisher by the researcher, Gilles-Eric Seralini, responsible for this study.
Seralini has not only been criticized for his shoddy research practices, but also for his seeming bias when it came to reporting accurate research results. Before publishing this study, Seralini has previously been an anti-GMO campaigner and even published an anti-GMO book and film within the same time period as the study in question.